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What Soccer Means to the Pacific Northwest

With Vancouver’s victory leading them to a 7-7-7 standing – and because I’m cripplingly superstitious on the inside – I want to talk about the Pacific Northwest and what soccer means to the fans.

Seattle Sounders

Seattle actually has a farther reach into soccer than people may think; after all, Seattle was just part of American soccer since the American Professional League (APL) in 1994. Seattle was part of a team (of the same name) for both the APL, and carried the name further from 1974 to 1983 while in the North American Soccer League (NASL). After the American Professional League’s dissolution in 2008, Seattle was chosen as a phoenix team for Major League Soccer.

Seattle is also a team that shares their field with the Seattle Seahawks at Lumen Field, a 69,000 stadium designed for both of the teams. Attendance will be restricted and pushed to the front for a more atmospheric show, but the entire field is opened for friendly international matches.

Drew Carrey is also a minor shareholder of the team, and chairman of the Sounders FC Alliance: his own requested supporter club. The Sounders also have a band, the Sound Wave.

Seattle is one of the most valuable franchises in North America. In the first five seasons, the Sounders have repeatedly beat franchise, state, and MLS, records for their attendance. Their roster has included the likes of Clint Dempsey and Osvaldo Alonso. The Sounders have also produced homegrown athletes like Jordan Morris, forward for Seattle, and defender DeAndre Yedlin, who now plays for Inter Miami.

The team has repeatedly competed in various title matches; the Sounders were the first to participate in the FIFA Club World Cup, and has become the first team to win the modern version of the CONCACAF Champions League. Seattle has a record for being the only team that has qualified for every MLS Cup playoff since the inception of the MLS, a league’s longest tied with RBNY for appearances.

Portland Timbers

The Timbers are the fourth soccer franchise based in Portland to carry the mantle. Originally assigned to the NASL team from 1975 to ‘82, the Timbers were selected as the 18th team for the MLS – the youngest in the Cascades region. The second phoenix team, Portland became the first of the self-termed “Cascadians” to achieve the honor of hoisting the MLS Cup in 2015.

The Timbers pay homage to their home; an ax centering the logo to symbolize the Pacific Northwest’s logging history, while the chevrons symbolize the three separate leagues: NASL, USL, and MLS.

Although not normally mentioned in such a fashion, it is important to note the supporters of the Timbers. The main supporter group of the Portland Timbers is the Timbers Army, a traditionally leftist political group. The reason this is mentioned is because in 2019, the Timbers Army protested against a Major League decision to ban political signage from games. This is one of the rare times in sports history, and the first first in MLS history, that a supporter group had changed a policy because of the usage of the ‘Three Arrows,’ a symbol originally used as the main logo for the ‘Iron Front,’ an anti-Nazi organization.

Vancouver Whitecaps

The Vancouver Whitecaps have been owned by the same group since the original Whitecaps, almost fifty years ago. Since 1974, Vancouver has been playing under the moniker of “Whitecaps.” They became the 17th team in the MLS, replacing the USSF Division 2’s Whitecaps. Although they had a rough start, Vancouver became the first Canadian team to qualify for the playoffs in 2012.

Vancouver plays at BC Place; a stadium sitting comfortably on the north end of False Creek. BC Place is also home to British Columbia’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Steve Nash, former Nets coach and back-to-back ‘05-’06 NBA’s MVP, is also a part-owner and will occasionally hang out at practice. His brother, Martin Nash, played for Vancouver for several years as a midfielder before retiring to become a manager.

Vancouver has created an arsenal of dangerous players, such as but none come close to left-back/winger Alphonso Davies – widely considered to be one of the best players for the Canadian national team.

Cascadia Cup

The Cascadia Cup was created in 2004, by supporters of the three: the Sounders, Whitecaps, and Timbers. Seattle has taken the lead with 7 titles (as of 2021), with Portland still holding onto the trophy (as of last year). The criteria, and the Cup rules, can be found at the Cascadia Cup website.

The Pacific Northwest has been enchanted by soccer for half of a century. Every uniform has been designed with the Cascades, the forests, or the Pacific Ocean, in mind. The cultural atmosphere is congruent to that of the northwest; a thriving artistic counterculture, much like soccer is in the United States. Unfortunately, the Pacific Northwest isn’t known for sports – unless you count University of Oregon, or the occasional whisper from the Mariners since Ken Griffey Jr. People will still casually use the team “Supersonics” in normal vernacular, as if the idea of the Oklahoma City Thunder isn’t suddenly a permeated fact. However, these three teams make one of the most vital components in soccer history. The Pacific Northwest’s sports scene seems to hang around the idea of soccer, in a sense. Maybe people should pay better attention.

Vancouver is coming off of a fresh win on the road; and Seattle, third in the West. The Timbers, however, are scraping off of two losses and a draw in July. Portland also sits at twelfth in the West.


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